It’s a literary genre that has been exploding in Europe in recent years.
Scandinavian crime, or Nordic Noir as it’s known, is so popular in the UK that bookshops now have special display corners dedicated to the genre.
According to British author Barry Forshaw – who has written about the phenomenon – it all started with the hugely popular ‘Millenium’ trilogy:
“Stieg Larsson, I think, is the explosion. He is the kind of juggernaut that starts everything happening. I realised how many excellent Swedish, Danish, Norwegian crime writers there were, who were slowly starting to be translated. And the British were hungry, the British were very hungry to find who is good, they read Henning Mankell, they like Wallander. What do you read after you have read Wallander? So people needed a road map,” says Barry Forshaw.
So what is it about Scandinavian crime novels that appeals so much to British readers?
According to one “famous Nordic author“http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/camilla-lackberg-the-rock-star-of-nordic-noir-8537395.html, it has to do with the fact that Scandinavia is so safe: people enjoy being scared under safe circumstances.
Barry Forshaw says it’s also to do with “the cold climate: we both have cold climates”.
“There were other things that we had in common as well, kind of political ways of thinking. The Italians and the Latin nations seems to lead a different kind of life. It wasn’t our life at all. So we liked the difference that Swedish crime fiction offered, but also the similarities,” says Forshaw.
A genre that was only for connoisseurs just a few years ago has now exploded into the mainstream.
Joseph Knobbs is a crime fiction buyer at Waterstones, one of Britain’s biggest bookstore chains. According to him, “It has gone from almost nothing to being the dominating force in crime fiction.”
Asked how much money is being made with Nordic Noir literature, Knobbs says: “I am afraid I can’t give specific figures, but a lot!”
The question is – will it last?
“The question I am asked most often is what will follow after Nordic Noir, what is the next trend? And the answer is more Nordic Noir, because there are still so many very good Scandinavian crime writers who will be translated and who are yet to appear,” concludes Barry Forshaw.